‘Krampus’ Review


Director: Michael Dougherty

Writers: Michael Dougherty, Todd Casey and Zach Shields

Cast: Adam Scott, Toni Collette, David Koechner, Allison Tolman, Conchata Ferrell, Emjay Anthony, Stefania LaVie Owen, Maverick Flack, Lolo Owen, Queenie Samuel, and Krista Stadler

Synopsis: A boy who has a bad Christmas ends up accidentally summoning a Christmas demon to his family home.


*Reviewer Note:  This will be a spoiler free review.*


I became a fan of Michael Dougherty when I saw his great Halloween film Trick ‘r Treat. The film was funny, suspenseful and had some great moments of horror, but more importantly, it was a hell of a lot of fun. So like many, I was looking forward to him getting back behind the camera and what better way to get back behind the camera with another holiday-themed horror film. While Krampus isn’t as good as Trick ‘r Treat, Dougherty still keeps the same intense but fun holiday horror.

Krampus follows the Engel family: the somewhat down-to-earth dad Tom (Scott), trying to stay sane mom Sarah (Collette), typical teenager daughter Beth (Lavie Owen), youthful and holiday loving Max (Anthony), and Tom’s mother or as she’s called by Max, Omi (Stadler) who only speaks in German. They are joined by Sarah’s sister, Linda (Tolman) and her family of her loud and obnoxious husband Howard (Koechner), their bratty daughters Stevie (Owen) and Jordan (Samuel), son Howie (Flack), baby Chrissy and has no filter, Aunt Dorothy (Ferrell). They all come together a few days before Christmas to be together, and while the first night doesn’t go over to well – including Max’s letter to Santa being read aloud – family bickering is the least of the Engel family’s problems: the evil spirit of Krampus – the opposite of Santa Claus – has been unleashed and has made them his target.


For those unfamiliar, Krampus is actually based on a legend/folklore. There are many interpretations of Krampus, but most agree on the same thing: he’s a villainous, horned creature that punishes children at Christmastime for being naughty. The Krampus in Krampus like that as well, but instead of just going after the children he also targets the grown-ups, whether it be himself or using his fiendish helpers that include demonic toys.


Thankfully, Krampus himself – and the film – isn’t completely CGI. With the expectation of a handful of scenes – one of which is a fantastic scene that takes place in the kitchen– Krampus is all practical effects and puppetry. Which is a nice touch because it makes the creatures, visually, feel more real and extra terrifying once everything goes to hell. Again, if you saw Trick ‘r Treat, Dougherty different and unique style is inject here which gives Krampus some much needed fun and humor. It may not be for everyone, but it definitely works here.


I thing I applaud Dougherty for doing is making the film more than just a horror film. It’s a dysfunctional family film too. Krampus is a slow burn film, that does get a bit sluggish at times, but before all the horror elements start, we get to know the family, and yes, even get to hate a few waiting for them to get picked off. But, what Dougherty and the other writers in Todd Casey and Zach Shields do is give them each a different personality from each other that makes us still, somewhat, root for them. Krampus could have worked as a straightforward horror film, but it’s the extra bit of humanity and the family story that gives the film that extra bit of levity and makes it just a bit better. The other part that makes Krampus works is the comedy.


Veteran comedic actors Adam Scott, Toni Collette, David Koechner and Conchata Ferrell bring their A-game to the sharp and witted script and really deliver on not just their comedic lines, but their more dramatic lines too. The kid actors also fare pretty well with Emjay Anthony’s Max getting most of the screen time and focus. Finally, Krista Stadler’s Omi is definitely a highlight in the film. She doesn’t speak too much, but when she does you know it means something and is also part of one of the coolest part of the film as well, which I won’t spoil or hint at.


All in all, Krampus is a lot of fun. It’s got humor, suspense, horror, and a good dysfunctional family story that is served well by its great cast. It’s also filled with awesome looking and much needed practical effects and creatures that levitate the film to a much better place. While it’s not on the same level as Dougherty last film Trick ‘r Treat, Krampus is well worth your time and a nice holiday-themed horror film.



4 out of 5



‘The Expendables 3’ Review


Dir: Patrick Hughes

Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Mel Gibson, Wesley Snipes, Antonio Banderas, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Glen Powell, Victor Ortiz, Kellan Lutz, Ronda Rousey, Kelsey Grammer, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Harrison Ford

Synopsis: Barney augments his team with new blood for a personal battle: to take down Conrad Stonebanks, the Expendables co-founder and notorious arms trader who is hell bent on wiping out Barney and every single one of his associates



*Reviewer Note:  This will be a spoiler free review*



Let’s face it, The Expendables 3 is review-proof. No matter what anybody says, any action movie fan is going to go watch their action movie heroes deliver one-liners, shoot some big guns, and kick ass, right? Of course! While the cast has gotten bigger, and younger, The Expendables 3 is more or less of the same with some new characters and same ol’ explosions.


The movie starts off like the trailers, with Barney (Stallone), Christmas (Statham), Gunner (Lundgren) and Toll Road (Couture) riding a helicopter alongside a train to rescue Doc (Snipes) for another mission. During the second mission, the group finds out that the person arranging the thing they are trying to break up is Conrad Stonebanks (Gibson), the co-founder of the Expendables. Everything goes to hell, once Barney realizes it’s Stonebanks, someone he thought he killed years before, Stonebanks nearly kills the group and gets away.


After the near death experience, Barney realizes he doesn’t want their deaths on his conscious, and disbands the group, much to the other dismay. He then asks an old friend Bonaparte (Grammer, in a glorified cameo) to assemble a younger team that is hunger and willing to do anything. During all of this, Barney also gets orders for CIA handler Drummer (Ford) to take down Stonebanks and capture alive, which you can probably guess doesn’t make Barney happy.


So before I get further in the review, I do have to mention the big thing that everyone is talking about it, the PG-13 rating. Some people have even boycotted the movie because of the rating, which in my opinion is the dumbest reason to boycott a movie. You can get away with a lot in a PG-13 movie nowadays, and while Expendables 3 does have some obvious showings that the rating is holding it back, it doesn’t mean it’s not fun. I personally don’t need massive amounts of blood in an action movie as long as the movie is fun, which thankfully Expendables 3 is.


To date, it is the biggest cast yet. The new team has a new weapon technician solider Mars (Ortiz), hacker Thorn (Powell), combat expect Luna (Rousey) and former Navy SEAL Smilee (Lutz). The standouts of this young cast will most likely be Lutz, since he has some more screen time than anybody and stands off against Stallone. Rousey is okay, she cracks a few jokes but is kind of meh of a character, especially when she delivers a specific line it’s almost cringe-worthy. Powell is okay but doesn’t do a lot to stand out, and Ortiz might be the least compelling, never really showing off his boxing skills as opposed to Rousey who does. They each have their own moments to show what they are good at when Barney and Bonaparte are recruiting them but they get captured right after their first job so they disappear for a bit of the movie until the final action sequence.


The other new additions are Grammer, Wesley Snipes, Harrison Ford and Antonio Banderas. Grammer, like I stated before, is nothing more than a glorified cameo and doesn’t get into any action scenes but it’s nice to see him and has some great scenes with Stallone. Banderas however might be the highlight of the movie. Banderas plays Galgo, a former fighter desperate to be on any team that will have him. Galgo might come has as annoying to some, mostly because he is almost consisting talking, even if he’s in a fight, but the way Banderas plays him it’s welcoming and awesome to see him on screen.


Hey baby

Hey baby


Snipes play Doc (or his full name Doctor Death), who has some nice chemistry with Stallone and even pokes fun at himself, which is funny and refreshing to see. Ford, who is replacing Bruce Willis, actually looks like he’s having fun and gets in a few jokes in at the expense of Jet Li (who only has about five minutes of screen time) and Jason Statham.


Ford as Drummer and Stallone as Barney Ross

Ford as Drummer and Stallone as Barney Ross


Finally, the last addition is Mel Gibson, who plays the villain Conrad Stonebanks who happens to be the former co-founder of The Expendables. Gibson is having a blast playing the villain and it was really cool seeing him embrace it. But Stonebanks also brings up some rather interesting points that go against Barney’s views and might even become change your view of the situation.



My gun isn’t big enough!


The old – and I use that term loosely – cast does the same old same old. Statham is still the second in command, Lundgren and Couture play the muscle and heavy hitters, Arnold comes in, cracks some jokes and even pokes some fun at Stallone. There is really nothing new for them to do and when the younger team moves in, they disappear too.


The action scenes are pretty cool and although the rating might have hindered some of them, they are still fun to watch. Some of them could have been better if the rating was R but hopefully people can get past that. Even the final fight between Stallone and Gibson is a bit underwhelming even though the build-up is great.


There is also the issue of some CGI. Although I know its nitpicky some unwanted CGI fills some of the action scenes and it kind of took me out of it. But what is nice is that director Patrick Hughes (Red Hill) does a pretty good job leaving the feel of some of the old 80s movies.


All in all, The Expendables 3 is more or less of the same, which if you enjoyed the others movies than that will be fine. There are some descent action sequences and great jokes scattered throughout. Gibson and Banderas are definitely the standouts and nice additions to the cast of ass-kickers.



The Expendables 3

4 out of 5